A deeper understanding of the benefits of sourcing rice locally
The rice project in the Democratic Republic of Congo serves as an excellent example of what a committed approach to local sourcing can achieve. Working in partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Cooperative for Rural Development and specialist agricultural NGOs, we have trained smallholder farmers to produce consistent volumes of high-quality rice. As a result, farmers’ average production and income have increased significantly.
Bralima, HEINEKEN’s Operating Company in the DRC, is directly involved in the project across eight local regions – Kinshasa, Kisangani, Bumba, Nsioni, Ngele, Budjala, Bukavu, and Lubumbashi. Each region has benefited from the project since it launched in 2008 (Kinshasa and Ngele’s initiatives started in 2011); 73% of the farmers have indicated the project improved their livelihoods, and Kinshasa, for example, has seen the average income per farmer increase by 324%. Meanwhile in Ngele, food security – the average number of daily meals – has increased by 59% since the project began.
Total rice production in the project area has increased by 62% and, as a result of training, individual smallholder farmers have seen their average annual production increase by 62%. This increase in farming knowledge and productivity has allowed Bralima to source 79% of its rice needs locally in 2013. This is a significant increase since 2008, when the company needed to import almost all of its rice from outside the DRC.
A direct effect of this can be felt across the country; by purchasing close to 40,000 tonnes of local rice within DRC, Bralima has redirected USD26 million into the local economy. In total, it generates income for more than 58,000 farmer families. The successes achieved in the DRC demonstrate clearly the benefits of a dedicated effort to increase local sourcing. The combined resources of HEINEKEN, the specialist NGOs and government organisations have provided a concrete and long-lasting improvement in the livelihood for many thousands of people throughout the country.